For today’s recipe, I will be making Nicaraguan Quesillo from scratch! Yes folks, this simple dish today will be made with homemade corn tortillas and a quick onion pickle.
My recipe is easy, uses authentic ingredients, and has deliciously balanced creamy sweet, and tangy flavors. Read on to learn how I do it!
What Is Nicaraguan Quesillo?
Quesillo is a term used to describe a couple of different foods from various Latin American, Spanish, and Filipino regions. In Spanish, the term directly translates to “little cheese.”
In Nicaragua specifically, quesillo refers to a dish that is made with primarily corn tortillas and Nicaraguan soft stretch cheese. The cheese is used as a filling. The thick corn tortilla is then wrapped around the soft cheese to create a burrito-like open-ended wrap.
While the primary flavoring ingredient is stringy cheese, there are some other very common additives for the filling. They mainly include pickled onions and sour cream.
The exact type of onion and pickling liquid depends on the region you are in. In La Paz Centro, they use purple pickled onions.
These delicious cheesy treats are served warm and freshly made. They are relatively quick once you have your corn tortillas and only require a few ingredients.
What You Will Need To Make My Homemade Nicaraguan Quesillo Recipe
You need corn tortillas, cheese, and pickled onions. All of these components can simply be bought at your local grocery, assembled, and cooked. However, that won’t be nearly as fun as making your own from scratch.
So today, I will show you how to make your own corn tortillas from scratch. You don’t need any special tools, but a tortilla press helps a lot. They aren’t expensive and relatively easy to find these days.
Then, I will also make a quick onion pickle using vinegar, aromatics, and regular brown onions. This is an area you can play around with different flavors a lot!
And finally, you can just buy Nicaraguan soft cheese from a Latin grocer. But, if you cannot find any (even online), then use any other type of stretch cheese. Mozzarella is arguably the easiest to find, affordable, and has a neutral flavor.
Tips And Tricks When Making Quesillo From Nicaragua
- When making the corn tortilla dough, add more water if the kneaded dough is cracking. But, if it’s too sticky, rather add a couple of teaspoons of extra masa harina flour.
- Keeping your dough balls and pressed tortillas underneath a damp cloth will help prevent them from drying out.
- When stacking the pressed tortillas, keep a small sheet of non-stick baking paper or plastic between each. This will prevent them from squishing together.
- You can store any leftover corn tortillas inside an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. Alternatively, you can freeze them for long-term storage.
What can you serve with Nicaraguan quesillo?
These quesillos are really great on their own. But, if you really want to serve them with a specific side, I would highly recommend a refreshing beverage. Try my Mango Lassi recipe or a Passion Fruit Lemonade.
Can you freeze your homemade corn tortillas?
You can easily make corn tortillas in advance and freeze them for later use. Make sure to freeze them with a sheet of plastic or saran wrap in between each tortilla. This will help them separate when they have thawed and will prevent them from sticking to each other.
What other cheeses can you use instead of Nicaraguan cheese?
Mozzarella is your best option. But, you can also use some fontina, gouda, asiago, gruyere, provolone, or raclette cheese. Their flavor will differ a lot from Nicaraguan cheese, but they will all melt beautifully.
How to serve the Nicaraguan Quesillo
The traditional way is to put it into a plastic bag and squeeze it into your mouth. But, you can also just eat it with a fork and knife.
More Super Simple Recipes
Nicaraguan Quesillo – An Uber Creamy Corn Tortilla With Cheese
For the quick pickled onions
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup white spirit vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
For the corn tortillas
- 1 cup masa harina
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 3/4 – 1 cup hot water
For the toppings
- 3 cups Nicaraguan soft cheese or mozzarella
- 1 cup sour cream
- Fresh cilantro, optional
Make the onion pickle
- Combine the water, vinegar, honey, and salt in a medium saucepan. Then, bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, remove it from the heat.
- Place the sliced onions into a heat-proof jar. Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jar over the onions. Make sure that all the onions are completely covered.
- Allow the pickling liquid to cool for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. After 30 minutes, they are ready to be removed from the liquid and served.
- Any leftover pickle can be closed inside the jar and stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Make the corn tortillas dough
- To start, combine the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Then, while stirring slowly with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3/4 cup of hot water.
- Continue mixing until a dough starts to form. If you need to add more hot water to make the dough come together, then do so slowly.
- Once you have a dough, knead the mixture inside the mixing bowl until it comes together. This will take about 2-3 minutes or until the texture is springy.
- Next, allow the dough to rest in a bowl covered with a damp cloth. Leave it at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Make the corn tortillas
- Once your dough has rested, divide it into 30-gram dough balls. Roll each ball until it is perfectly round. Set them aside under a damp cloth.
- Then, place each ball between two sheets of plastic on the tortilla press. Then, carefully, slowly, and gently press the ball until it forms a 5-inch tortilla. Stack the pressed tortillas aside.
- While you press the tortillas, start cooking some as well. Preheat a non-stick frying pan over medium to high heat. Then, cook each tortilla for about 50 seconds per side or until it starts forming brown spots.
- Once they are cooked, stack them onto a plate with a dry clean kitchen towel over them. Continue the process until all your tortillas have been cooked.
Assemble your Nicaraguan quesillos
- To start, place the grated cheese on the cooked and cooled tortilla. Then, microwave it for roughly 30 seconds on medium-high heat. Keep heating until the cheese has melted.
- Top the cheese with some pickled onions, sour cream, and fresh cilantro.
- Wrap the entire tortilla into a burrito. However, keep one end open for you to each from.
- Repeat the process until all your tortillas have been filled. Any leftover ingredients can be stored for later use.
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